Plot: A Scientist named Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson) becomes a monstrous scarred man after a gang of criminals burn him and his lab to the ground. Westlake, who’s research includes replacing skin tissue, tries to reform his face and seek vengeance on the criminals who did this to him.
Darkman is truly a tale of two halves. I really hated this movie for the first half. It’s praised for its beautiful imagery, but I could careless, because a lot of it is just random crap thrown together in a dark and artistic way that makes no connection to what’s going on. It tries to be serious, but there are many silly elements and terrible overacting. I don’t know what the hell this movie is trying to be. There’s a bunch of goofy villains who cackle a lot, we get all these annoying close-ups that make it really unappealing, and the music is just too much. It’s so overbearing and dramatic, and it’s constantly playing throughout. It doesn’t give you a chance to calm down. Now when the second half rolls around, it becomes a much more focused movie. It actually lets scenes play out where the music isn’t blasting in your ear distracting everything. It becomes pretty bad ass, especially when Darkman starts fooling criminals with all his lab experiments. It still suffers from silliness and overacting, but the ending dramatically brings this movie up. This isn’t bad, but you have to suffer through a lot of bull shit to get to the cool stuff.
Rating: 6 out of 10 (‘meh’)
Category Rankings (Spoilers Throughout):
Best Performance: Frances McDormand as Julie Hastings
-She plays this movie just right. She’s not overly goofy and not overly dramatic. Whereas most of the acting is either laughable or too much, she managed to find a balance that didn’t piss me off.
Worst Performance: Liam Neeson as Peyton Westlake/Darkman
-I hate saying this, because there is no bigger Neeson fan than me, but I do not like him in this at all. This is probably more Director Sam Raimi’s doing. I’m sure this is the performance he wanted. Neeson overacts almost every line, especially when he becomes Darkman. He goes completely overboard when he laughs and breaks down. I hate it.
Best Line: “I’m everyone, and no one. Everywhere…no where. Call me…Darkman.” –Darkman
-This was one of Neeson’s great moments of delivery. It wraps up the movie very nicely.
Worst Line: “I was engaged to a girl once with a wooden leg…had to break it off.” –Eddie Black
-The line is bad enough, but the reaction it got from the other characters was side splitting laughter. That really pissed me off! This was practically the first scene of the movie, so already I was getting turned off.
-The fight at the end between Darkman and Louis Strack was pretty cool. They are on the construction of Strack’s new building, with all these narrow steel girders. They both carefully jump from girder to girder, and the action is directed damn well. And then a big nail gun comes into play, it’s pretty cool.
-There is an absolutely terrible moment when Westlake flies out of his lab on fire. It looks so fricking cartoony that it nearly discredits the entire movie. Maybe Raimi was going for humor or something, and I’m sure there are a lot of people who like that shot, but I’m sorry, it’s just stupid, stupid, stupid.
-The whole sequence of Darkman portraying Durant is awesome. From the moment he impersonates him robbing the convenient store using a tape recorder of his voice, to when the Durant face falls onto the street. Probably the best shot of the film is when Durant looks at a replica of his face and it sizzles and melts away on the street.
-I hope this is Liam Neeson’s worst scene in a movie. Darkman is really breaking down, and he starts doing a little dance for his cat, calling himself a freak and putting on a little cone hat. I know he’s supposed to be losing it, but it’s just silly! Neeson dances around chanting “dancing freak” as circus-like music plays. I just hate to see Liam Neeson doing this.
-One of the moments of comedy that actually works is at the carnival when the dick head Carney refuses to give Westlake the prize elephant he won for Julie. Westlake flips out and yells to Julie, “Just take the fucking elephant!” That was pretty funny.
Bad Ass Moment:
-Darkman’s big method of messing with the criminals is portraying them using his skin tissue technology. There’s one moment towards the end where he wears a double mask to fake out a criminal. Whoa. We’ve seen characters wear masks and portray other people, but the double mask! That’s pretty crazy.